WEST BURLINGTON — The Panther boys are in the winner’s column after a non-conference victory on Tuesday night in West Burlington. Mt. Pleasant started slow but eventually pulled away from the Falcons despite a rough night shooting, and took home their first win of the year, 51-39.
The Panthers had to stage a comeback early on after West Burlington came out swinging in the first quarter. The Falcons led 13-8 after the opening period and Mt. Pleasant had to buckle down early.
The Panthers started to get things done on the inside in the second quarter. Mt. Pleasant outscored West Burlington 12-5 in the period to take a 20-18 lead into halftime. Sam Beatty had half of Mt. Pleasant’s points at the break, scoring four in the first quarter and six in the second.
Mt. Pleasant’s defense buckled down in the third quarter. West Burlington was held to just two points in the period and the Panthers built a double-digit lead. At the end of the third quarter, Mt. Pleasant led 35-20.
West Burlington cut the lead back to double digits early in the fourth quarter but the Panthers buried the Falcons with free throws later on. Keegan Kohorst scored nine points in the fourth quarter and 14 in the second half to help Mt. Pleasant close it out.
The Panther defense held West Burlington to long scoring stretches in the game, and gave up just seven points in the second and third quarters combined. Head coach Caleb Akey says the team needed a defensive output like that, as they’ve been struggling to get the ball in the hoop.
“That’s kind of the thing we’ve been trying to establish ourselves with, is our defense,” Akey said. “It’s well documented with the things I’ve said that offensively we’re struggling right now. If we can get stops defensively, that offsets some of that, the fact that we can’t score very well.”
Beatty finished the game with 19 points to lead the squad. Kohorst had 16. Rhett Zeglen scored six points. Tucker Johnson had three points. Brody Bender scored three points and led the team with nine rebounds, and both Clayton Lowery and Konnor Peterson scored two.
The Panthers didn’t shoot well from the field, going 10-42 overall and 1-17 from beyond the arc, but they shot 40 free throws on the night and hit 28 of them.
“I’m happy that we made free throws, but that can’t be what you’re relying on to score,” Akey said. “Sam and Keegan had a lot of shots at the free throw line. Hats off to them for getting there and making them, but we still have to find other ways to score.”
Mt. Pleasant moved to 1-3 with the win. They’ll try to pick up their first conference win on Friday, Dec. 7, when they head to Keokuk for a road Southeast Conference game.